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Families of bus accident victims may have wrongful death claims

Red flags went up for New York City traffic officials in November when public transit buses killed four pedestrians who were crossing the street in four separate accidents that month. In 2014, there were eight pedestrian deaths during the year from transit buses. In those cases where the negligence of bus drivers was a substantial factor in causing a pedestrian death, the decedent's estate may assert a wrongful death claim to pursue financial relief for the death of the loved one.

In three of the fatalities in November, the driver was making a left turn and the victim was hit in the crosswalk. Under New York's right-of-way law, that fairly translates to a legal finding of negligence per se against the drivers and the transit authority in each of those matters. A finding of negligence as a matter of law makes it far easier for the victim's estate to prove and establish liability on the part of the defendants.

That makes it easier to get a settlement from the defendants' insurance carriers, sometimes without having to file formal litigation. Where the insurer is willing to provide sufficient economic value to the decedent's life and where there is no major dispute regarding the driver's negligence, aggressive and experienced plaintiff's attorneys can often succeed in getting an early settlement. The decedent's estate will save time, later expenses and worry by seeing an experienced wrongful death attorney as soon as possible after the accident so that the claim may be processed most effectively and timely.

One of the causes of negligent driving by New York City bus drivers is reportedly their use of personal cell phones. There are reports that drivers keep their phones close to their vest while working their routes. The authorities are looking at that and other ways to fight the problem, including audio warnings at intersections and sensors to warn drivers that someone is near the bus. While officials attempt to find and implement solutions, the families of deceased victims can help in their own way by asserting the wrongful death claims to which they are entitled under the law.

Source:, "Technology can help make MTA buses safer", Dec. 10, 2015

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